Game title: Word Rummy
Materials: 106-card deck, scoresheet
The object is to have the lowest number of points by combining the cards in a hand into a word or words. In each deal the players may reduce the value of the cards held in their hands by coming up with a specific “contract” that is made up a specific combination of words (that each have a specific number of letters).
The contracts change for each deal. The contracts for the seven deals are:
Deal #1: 2 sets of 3-letter words
Deal #2: One 3-letter word, one 4-letter word
Deal #3: Two 4-letter words
Deal #4: One 4-letter word, one 5-letter word
Deal #5: Two 3-letter words, one 4-letter word
Deal #6: Two 3-letter words, one 5-letter word
Deal #7: One 3-letter word, one 4-letter word, one 5-letter word
In the first hand of the game, 6 cards are dealt to each player. In the next hand, one additional card is dealt to each player (7 cards), and so on until the cards can no longer be dealt evenly to each player.
The player to the dealer’s left is first, and the play continues clockwise.
On each turn, a player:
-Draws either a card from the draw pile or the top card from the discard pile
-May lay down their completed contract for that hand
-May play off of other players who have laid down once they have laid down their own contracts (by adding letters to already-existing words). If able, a player who has laid down may also create a new word with remaining cards and add it to the contract cards already on the table. For example, if the player picks up the letter cards “E,” “T,” and “A,” they may place down the three cards as a new word “EAT.” Other players who have gone out will have the opportunity to play off of this new word.
-Completes a turn by discarding one card (or by going out)
Play continues until one player “goes out,” or has no cards left in their hand.
After each player has finished their turn by discarding, if the next player declines to pick up the new top card of the face-up discard pile, any other player may “buy” it. The “price” of picking up this extra card out of turn is drawing an additional card from the draw pile.
The first player to say (or shout) “BUY IT” gets the card. If two players speak at the same time, the player who laid down the card originally may choose who the card should go to.
The option to buy ends when the next player draws a card.
There are two Wild Cards in the deck, and these cards can represent any letter of the player’s choosing.
Playing off other players
Once a player has laid down, they can then attempt to further reduce the number of cards in their hand by adding to other players’ laid cards. If another player has laid down the word “EAT,” and you have an “S,” “H,” “B,” or other letter that would fit the word, you may add it to their pile. For example, the new word could be “EATS” or “BEAT.”
A player goes out when he/she successfully discards the only remaining card in the hand, marking the conclusion of the step for all players. A player gets to this point by laying down and then playing off his and other players’ hands.
At the end of each round when a player goes out, the rest of the players total their scores by counting up the value of the cards remaining in their hands. The card value is the number that is printed in the top corner of each card.
109 cards: A-10, B-2, C-2, D-4, E-12, F-2, G-3, H-3, I-8, J-2, K-2, L-4, M-2, N-6, O-8, P-2, Q-1, R-6, S-6, T-6, U-6, V-2, W3, X-1, Y-2, Z-1, Wild-2
How is this a spelling/letter game?
Well….it requires players to combine letters together to make words. Like Scrabble or Boggle, players with a more extensive vocabulary and/or more experience in word games will likely have an advantage (ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT “QAT” IS A WORD!). This game also requires players to consider how to edit and add onto words, as players must add letters onto existing words in order to “go out.”
The game’s structure is modeled after Liverpool Rummy, replacing the traditional playing cards with word cards. I based the letter frequencies for the cards off of Scrabble, though I did change a few (for example, “S” cards appear more frequently in my game than they would in Scrabble).
What did people think // Room for improvement
I was only able to get through a couple of rounds before my friends abandoned me to watch the Oscars, but they seemed to like it! It’s relatively easy to maintain a conversation during gameplay, though the “twitch” aspect of the game comes into play when you want to “buy” a letter card. If you’re talking to the person next to you and you miss the “S” card that was on top of the discard pile and someone else takes it…tough luck! One thing that I may need to work on is the final part of each round, when players have completed their contracts and are trying to play their cards on other players’ words–sometimes this part can take WAY too long. More playtesting will clear this up, I think…it might be necessary to add more “S” cards or Wild Cards to the deck to fix this issue.
Altogether, it was a fun project!